When I tell people I am from Australia they typically think of visiting amazing untouched white sandy beaches, snorkelling on coral reefs that stretch for hundreds of miles and exploring vast open wildernesses.
I can watch the faces of people I meet when I say where I am from, they cast their gaze up and to the right in what I assume is them thinking about how beautiful my country appears to be, how exotic and amazing it must be to have grown up there, this is often followed by a "it's on my bucket list" or an "I can't wait to visit there one day"
I myself, before years of travel was proud as punch call Australia home, I (like many other Aussies) was almost perceived as ostentatious when telling new foreign friends about my home land, such was my pure love for this beautiful country.
But sadly its not until you step off the island that you begin to notice little by little, that things aren't exactly as they seem...
We are living in what I feel can be best described as a Schrödinger's Australia. A paradox in which we are both a clean and beautiful country, yet at the same time the worlds 5th largest coal producer, and among the largest consumer of fossil fuels.
Our tourism slogan states "there's nothing like Australia" and I wholeheartedly agree. We take out the title spot in a whole bunch of categories unabashedly having some of the best beaches in the world, home to some of the most unique wildlife and some of the most spectacular landscapes. There truly is nothing like growing up in a land where the fear of drop bears and rabid magpies is a very real thing.
It wasn't however until I paid my first power bill in anther country that I found out that unfortunately we also top the list for being the country with the most expensive power in the developed world, and I am sadden to recently find out we are one of the few countries not meeting our Paris climate change agreements, nor does it feel like we're trying.
I always thought of my country as this beautiful haven, home to healthy reefs and tropical rainforests teeming with wild exotic birds, so it was heartbreaking to realize that despite public wishes our governments obsession with living in the pockets of coal giants means per head of capita, we are among the worlds worst polluters, we are in fact worse than China and only marginally better than Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
And it's not because we want this, it's not because, we as people, don't care about the country or environment we live in, its quite the opposite. A recent survey found that 75% of Aussies surveyed believe that climate change is a very real and important global issue.
No, our reason for being such a polluting country is simply because the Government apparently doesn't give a shit about what we want.
In a move that has not only shocked but dumbfounded the world at its sheer stupidity, the government recently protested to have the wondrous national icon the Great Barrier Reef, our Northern Territory’s glorious Kakadu national park and Tasmania's rain forests removed from the UN list of world heritage sites that are at risk.
Meaning that the publication which cited areas at risk from climate change, a publication designed to inform the public on how to help their world, was not to publish anything to do with our perishing natural icons.
The governments reason for having our national parks removed from the listing was "officially" over fears that if we admitted that the barrier reef is bleaching to death people might stop visiting.
The government worried that if they told their public that Tasmania's forests are being logged regardless of previous agreements, it would "harm tourism."
Although it stated "tourism" as the reason it wished to remove these areas from being listed, we are left to wonder if the looming deal with coal giant Adani has anything to do with the inability to allow the public to know the truth about the instability of our largest and most loved national treasures.
Adani apparently donated a large sum to the prime minister Malcom Turnbull's election campaign and now it seems they are getting the green light to put a giant coal mine in the heart of the whitsunday coast, a mecca of Australian small tourism and bordering the Great Barrier Reef, despite the fact that 91% of Australians surveyed want the government to invest in green energy.
This new mine is set to dredge 3,000,000 cubic meters of sea bed from inside our "not-at-risk but currently bleaching to death" world heritage area, and is proposed to be dumped back into the great barrier reef marine park. This dredging is to make way for the coal ships and port expansion.
Scientists have predicted this will cause irreversible damage to the homes of already threatened sea turtles and dugongs.
But at the end of the day turtles don't donate fat stacks of cash to political parties, so who cares about them right?
Maybe our government has realized how much we are bleeding from our wallets due to our over taxed and over inflated electricity prices, maybe our government has made this deal with the devil for the new mine to help ease our struggles?
Apparently not as green energy recently surpassing fossil fuels as the most cost effective power source to produce, new wind energy is now 14 per cent cheaper than new coal and 18 per cent cheaper than new gas per kWh to produce.
So if the Australian public want green energy and green energy is cheaper for us and better for the planet why then is the government set to spend $1billion on providing infrastructure to a dirty, unwanted environmental disaster that is set to cripple an already dying reef despite public outcry?
Maybe it has something to do with the potential death of one orange bellied parrot every 667 years? As were the claims made by mining investors protesting against wind farms.
Maybe its the scientifically debunked conspiracy theory thrown down by Australian politician and ex-prime minister Tony Abbott that wind farms have "potential health impacts"? When he could not back up the claim he merely stated that "they visually awful, they make a lot of noise"
With such great scientific reasons to not utilize green energy its hard to imagine that the reason coal is being favoured could more likely to be all the donations made by mining giant Adani to the Liberal political party leading up to the most recent election....